Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another letdown

In order to get Brindi out before Christmas (the earliest court date we could get is December 16), my lawyer and I have been working hard to get Animal Services to finally sit down and talk.
Today, Scott Hughes, the HRM legal counsel, sent a brief note (three lines) to my lawyer to say that Animal Services are not willing to appear at a meeting he had tentatively scheduled this week. No explanation. He did offer to meet with my lawyer, alone, but not until next week. No explanation for that delay either.

I did not publicize the possibility of this meeting in advance. I didn't want to get anybody's hopes up, especially mine. And my lawyer felt it would be more respectful of the city. Maybe that was a mistake, though, because this is the second time a meeting with Animal Services fell through. The last time, in August, the HRM spokesperson, Deborah Story, informed the press that all parties involved would be meeting within a week or so. It never happened.

A meeting took place, but not the one advertised. Only HRM counsel Scott Hughes appeared at the agreed on date and time. He had notified my lawyer at the time, only an hour earlier, that Andrea Macdonald and Lori Scolero would not attend. We agreed to meet with him anyway, so that we could put forward requests for an assessment and a foster home, backed by all the support letters and sound argumentation we could muster. But a few days later, he simply rejected the requests, again with little or no explanation.

I'm told I have a pretty good case. I'm not all that concerned about the case itself, knock on bone. The chief problem is time. Well, time and money. And the energy cost, and the strain on dog and woman, of course. Okay, there are four chief problems. By December 16, Brindi will have been confined in the pound for nearly five months. She was seized in the height of summer; it will be mid-winter then. A dog's life is relatively short. Each month of her life is more like a year or six months to us. By now, with two years in one shelter, another five months (if she gets out in December) in the pound, at five years old, nearly half of her life will be wasted behind bars.

Again, I have no intention of dropping this fight. There may not be much left of my life by the time she's back home, but I cannot abide the injustice of destroying a life for no good reason. Any life. When that life happens to be my responsibility, I will do whatever it takes. If I were Bill Gates, I'd gladly pay China whatever it wants in exchange for an end to their sick practice of putting bears in cages they can hardly crouch in, and hooking up tubes to extract their bile for so-called medicine. But I'm not Bill, I'm only Francesca. All I can really do is make sure all three animals in my care have good lives. They are all rescue animals. And I refuse to allow Brindi, who was abused as a young dog, to lose her only forever home, and become a victim a poorly conceived, unregulated system that is quite frankly (think of poor Ducky) out of whack and out of control.

There are folks on all fronts here who agree that the animal control system needs work. And I am sure nobody enjoys knowing what is happening with Brindi and me. But it's not enough to make sympathetic noises about it. And it seems to me that it is in the interest of Animal Services and the entire city government to resolve this case as soon as possible. In fact, Mr. Hughes did express an interest in a quicker resolution in August, when he urged us to drop the lawsuit in favor of a one-day injunction (a gamble, but a possibility). He even cited my dog's welfare as a main reason, i.e., the length of her "incarceration", and he also cited the added cost of a lengthy trial to the city coffers.

I have to say it again, at the risk of losing readers: cities represent the pinnacle of civilization, east and west. They are centers of business and industry, but also of art, literature, intellect, spirituality, knowledge, and wisdom. These things are not exclusive to cities of course, but it is in cities where they are sought and nurtured most. So why should cities engage in the slaughter of a species of animal so highly valued that people spend millions on them, their care and feeding, and a vast array of toys and clothes, including Halloween costumes? Why should cities be proud of putting dogs down, when it's been shown time after time, for years now, how unnecessary it is, even with so-called "aggressive" dogs. Best Friends, Cesar, and my future trainer, Silvia Jay, among many, many others. It's also been shown that behind every aggressive dog is a human who made it that way, through breeding or treatment. Most dogs are born to love and learn and play and be our companions. After all, humans spent thousands of years breeding them for that very purpose. But that's another discussion.

What's the next move? I really don't know. Yet.